Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Aug 18, 2007 12:35 AM

Top Chef-is anyone else upset about how they are sending home contestants?!?!

This year, in the first couple episodes, almost proved a step in the right direction: Thoughtful eliminations based on cuisine quality and talent. But now it has gone awry!! Why is Lia not still in the game? They sent home an extremely talented chef. Why is Howie still on the show?? No talent at all. Is this all for ratings?? It is sad to say, but nothing has even come close to outshining season one.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Each episode's judging (according to Colicchio) is based solely on that Elimination Challenge. When Lia got sent home she just didn't cook a Latin-enough dish for the judges. This Wikipedia chart was linked in another TC post: - Howie has had two wins (despite having been in the bottom FIVE times). But I suspect he's going to be out pretty soon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LindaWhit

      I hear what you're's along the line of 'why did Ilan win last year?' IMO, Sam or Elia should've won. Ilan, I'm sure, is a good cook, however at a recent lunch at Casa Mono in NYC - one of the waitresses mentioned that he won by using all of Andy Nusser's recipes. (And if you've seen the menu, you'll know what I'm talking about).

      In regards to this year, I'm having a hard time guaging who will be Top Chef. I thought Lia was very talented as well and was sad to see her go so early.

    2. The winner is whoever the judge's decide its going to be, its not the best chef, its not the most poised chef, its whatever the judges feel like on that day at that time. It doesn't mean the best chef and the most poised chef won't win, but there is very little correlation.

      The deal is that there are no objective thresholds that these judges are making their judgment. They are given pretty amorphous marching orders and their personal interpretations of what a top chef should be. They say that it is what the chef does in elimination challenge, but there are no requirements, Howie didn't even finish a dish, and they didn't get rid of him. They justified it by extrapolating that his dish would have been great if he had time to finish and they invoked the old : "well, we know he's a better chef than this..". But they didn't do it for Lia.

      I am not going to say that there is an outright conspiracy, but the judges are human and they are affected by different elements and their dealings with the cheftestants definitely affect their judging. Add on top of that the amount of time they spend filming this thing, I wouldn't be surprised if they went with the majority most of the time just to get out of the filming. These people aren't going to be pulling the Twelve Angry Men routine for a reality show.

      But, the cheftestants knew this coming in so I am not very upset by all this. They knew what they were getting into and they are reaping the publicity that I assume was their main motivation in the first place.

      1. "... I was absolutely heartbroken to send [Lia] home this early in the competition. Sadly, her Smoked Rainbow Trout with Poblano Charred Corn Polenta Cake gave us no choice. It was mushy and void of much texture, under seasoned and most importantly, did not embody the essence of Latin American food."

        "Howie, who is always the first to admit that his weakness lies in not being able to budget his time properly, managed to rise to the occasion and steal the show! The result of his hard work was a Braised Pork Shoulder with Yuca and Sour Orange Mojo that everyone adored. It had just the right balance of spicy, zesty and tender meat, which was blended with a refreshing citrus and sweet onion crunch, and starchy, soothing yucca root. This dish was the clear winner for us all. To me, it represented how great Latin food can be, with its simplicity of presentation and vibrant depth of flavor."

        1. I think the show is mostly dictated on the idea of ratings and face time. There is no way Ilan should have won. And this year many of them are still in because of the drama. Drama usually keeps you on one of these shows. That's why Howie and the rest of them stay on...

          Plus Padma really should stay quiet. When Tom and the rest of the judges make comments, hers are usually silly and without much weight.

          I enjoy the show but everyone has to realize it is just entertainment. Fine chefs may not be enough sizzle for reality TV.

          1. I agree. I think they've made some terrible choices. Howie has screwed up every single team challenge and made a thick RIOSOTTO in Miami in April. I would love to see him go home, immediately.